For Kyle Busch, Ford Championship Weekend is starting to become a normal part of his life. It’s the 33-year old’s fourth straight appearance in the Championship 4, winning both the Ford EcoBoost 400 and the title in 2015.
Sure, scoring one Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship is pretty sweet. You can even be considered a legend in the sport with one title. Heck, you can be a Hall of Famer without winning any, like Mark Martin.
But getting that second championship solidifies your legacy just that much more.
“It’s time to win these [championships], bring them home,” Busch said during his media availability Thursday (Nov. 15). “In this group of four, we have three one-timers and one zero-timer. That will allow either another one-timer and leave Jimmie [Johnson] as the only repeat champion, or you will finally see another [driver] step into his own with being able to win two. [Winning a second championship] would solidify the first in regards to your history in the sport.”
Since the 2015 title run, Busch has come up empty. But despite missing out on the last two opportunities, he doesn’t plan to change a thing.
“I feel like when you get to [the Championship 4]… I’ve gone through the same steps every single year,” Busch said. “I feel like we have the right things going our way. My rituals in preparing have been really good, top notch. It’s only worked once, so maybe I need to figure something else out.”
No matter what, Busch has continued to rack up victories each and every year since his title. But even with 51 career Cup wins, 92 in XFINITY and 51 in Truck, Busch does not believe he has peaked as a driver.
“I think [I’m a better driver now], I do,” Busch stated. “I think I’ve yet to see my prime. Once I crest that top, I’ll start thinking about retirement.”
Last year, Busch felt he had one of the best cars in the field, coming up just short against Martin Truex Jr. Has he learned from that experience?
“Ran down Truex and he was at the top,” he said. “I needed to run the top. I just couldn’t run the bottom anymore; it was too late in the day. At that time of the [race], the lapped cars don’t give you a fit. They just roll over and get out of the way to let you have your lane.
“When [I] am winning, I’m thinking, ‘What did I do to overcome that loss and make it a win?’ I’ve been through a lot of those situations and that comes with experience. I think that you have to grow and evolve as a driver, especially with how the cars change. Your competitors change as well, so it’s always a moving target.”
2019 could very well see Busch make some more history. He’s already far and away the all-time win leader in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and tied with Ron Hornaday Jr. for the all-time lead in Camping World Trucks. Busch’s 51 Cup wins, meanwhile, leave him 11th all-time. He’s three wins away from breaking into the top 10; four more would tie him with Rusty Wallace at 55. Wallace got his 55th and final win at age 47 in his 642nd start. Busch has made 497 starts to this point and he’s just 33 years old.
While Busch will more than likely go down as an all-time great in NASCAR regardless of what he does this weekend, he’s taking his accomplishments one race at a time. That means complete Homestead focus as he zeroes in on what he hopes is a second title.